Editor extraordinaire, professional beard wearer, and comedy Mancunian Andrew Connor gave me this idea yesterday on Twitter (follow him at @AndyConnor, although be warned, he does get a bit political). Quite often the demands of schedules mean we have to produce a promo to go on air before we actually get any footage of the programme in question. So, in these instances, what do you do? Here are the usual alternatives…
Do a Shoot: Often the preferred option for budding Spielbergs such as myself, as long as there’s time to licence actors, secure a crew, and find a location (and of course enough money in the budget), a full-on shoot will give you the required thirty seconds of footage to push the programme, without actually needing any broadcast-quality footage. Of course, this sort of thing has its own built-in lead times, as outlined above; but often filming ourselves (literally: one CITV staffer pointing a camera at another) can smooth out wrinkles and get a shoot done a lot faster (if a little less professionally).
Do it in Graphics: Probably the default CITV option due to the high calibre of our in-house graphics department, we throw the whole prom over to our After Effects wunderkinds. This can result in some excellent work, especially for teases, but like organising a shoot, has its own time-related pitfalls: basically, going the Full Graphics requires time to make stuff up from scratch, especially if you want pretty lighting effects or 3D.
Do it in Graphics (Quickly): A sub-set of getting graphics to do it, we produce a graphics-based promo, but very quickly. This might be simple still images or non-animating captions, and whilst it won’t look as flashy can sometimes be just as effective.
Use Past Shows: If you’re doing a launch promo for a new series of an existing programme, then you can - although it’s cheating a bit and not really the most effective way of showing off the material - use footage from older series. We’ve done it in the past, but as it’s “poor form” to act like older footage is, in fact, new, it’s usually as part of a structured prom advertising the show’s “brand”. You could go, “Hey, you liked these old Horrid Henry moments? Well, we’ve got some new ones coming up soon.”
Use Unrelated Programmes: A cunning way to advertise a show that’s brand new is to do it in context of other shows. Show other characters, perhaps from similar programmes, or ones that are big parts of our overall brand, and then say that the upcoming new characters will be a welcome part of this lineup.
Wait Till the Last Possible Moment: Otherwise known as “winging it”, if you know (or are prepared to gamble) that footage will be arriving at the 11th hour, you can just spool through it in edit, take it in there and then, and cobble something together as best you can. In these circumstances it usually helps if your loveable promo producer has already selected a music track and written a script, but sometimes it’s good to fly by the seat of your pants. Note: I don’t recommend this course of action if you want to win a Promax award.
The “We’ve Got No Footage” Approach: Otherwise known as an “anti-promo” (by, er, me), you highlight the show’s newness by bigging up the fact that you’ve not even seen it yet. This usually involves several of the above suggestions. And can be hilarious.
When in Doubt, Recycle: The last bastion of no-programme-need-a-promo-ness - you just grab an old prom out of the library and change the packshot. Job’s a good ‘un.